Nudge: Towards a Consensus View?

Vincent Berthet* and Benjamin Ouvrard

Nudge: Towards a Consensus View?

In fact, there is a fundamental discrepancy between the narrow definition of Thaler and Sunstein and the broad definition of Sunstein. These two definitions differ regarding the instrumental use of rationality failures, and accordingly whether the provision or disclosure of information counts as a nudge or not. Accordingly, researchers interested in nudging should stick to two heuristic guidelines. The first one is to conceptually distinguish between nudge as a method of behavior change from nudge as a type of policy intervention.

Since the seminal work of T&S, two phases of research can be identified in the growing field of nudging. While the first phase was primarily theory-driven by focusing on theory and philosophy, the current phase is data-driven and aims at assessing the effectiveness of nudges. We are still unable to define what nudge exactly is and we probably won’t.

Note that while such a framework might be useful to understand how nudges work and design new interventions, a priori classification can be hazardous. In fact, nudge types are more easily distinguishable in theory than in practice. Regarding the technique factor, deciding whether a particular intervention involves the provision of information or not might be trick.

Noteworthy, the rational neutrality is the signature of NN, which separates it from other psychological approaches to behavior change such as rational persuasion or motivation. The definitions that followed that of T&S confirmed the instrumental use of rationality failures as the defining feature of nudge.

Psychol Cogn Sci Open J. 2019; 5(1): 1-5. doi: 10.17140/PCSOJ-5-143